What do I do if my tenant stops paying the rent?

publication date: Sep 12, 2009
 | 
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books
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What do I do if my tenant stops paying the rent?


Unfortunately, during a recession more and more tenants will struggle to pay their rent, especially because of the rise in unemployment. As a result, a previously perfectly good tenant may end up being a poor paying one within a matter of months.

Here are our top ten tips of what to do if your tenant stops paying rent:-

1.    Check the tenancy agreement and identify the key steps you can/need to take when a tenant stops paying the rent.

2.    If you have a letting agent acting on your behalf, ideally visit them (or via phone) and agree a strategy of what you/they are going to do and when. 

3.    Check your Landlord Insurance Policy to see if you are covered for a tenant defaulting on payment.

4.    Immediately contact the tenant via phone or visit (ensuring you give notice as per your agreement if visiting).

5.    Find out why the tenant hasn’t paid and set a deadline for the tenant to pay the monies.

6.    If there is a guarantor, advise in writing and by phone that the tenant has defaulted.

7.    Identify whether the tenant isn’t paying because of a short term problem or whether they won’t be able to pay on-going.

8.    If you need to evict the tenant, speak to them to see if they will leave the property so you can re-let the property to a paying tenant (but ensure you abide by the rules laid out in the rental agreement).

9.    If required, start eviction procedures according to the tenancy agreement which includes a Section 8 Notice that advises the tenant they have 14 days to pay the rent.

10.    If the tenant doesn’t make good on their payments within the 14 days, issue a Section 21 Notice which gives two months' notice to the tenant that you are ending the agreement.

Although the legal process can be frustrating and take from two to three months, it’s important to make sure you follow the procedure to evict a tenant laid out in your tenancy agreement. Only a court can conclude that the tenant must leave your property and only bailiffs, sometimes supported by the police can ensure that the tenant leaves.

If you try to evict the tenant in any way and do so against the legal proceedings set out in the tenancy agreement, you could actually forfeit your right to be able to evict the tenant, so it’s not worth the risk!

For more information and help when a tenant stops paying rent and companies to use that will evict a tenant legally, call us on 0845 838 1763 or contact us via email.


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